THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Des Moines, Iowa) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release February 11, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON FEDERAL WORK-STUDY PROGRAM
Drake University Des Moines, Iowa
12:45 P.M. CST
MS. HINDERS: I'm Sally Hinders, and on behalf of Drake University and our entire community, we welcome you. We are so pleased to have you and the Senator with us today, and we are very excited to talk with you about financial aid and, more specifically, the work-study program.
We have had a great deal of fun this week -- (laughter) -- meeting with one another and getting some representatives from Drake University. And we're fortunate today to have a real good combination, we think, of students and some of the employers and also some parents, who certainly play a key role in this. So we thought, to begin, it might be helpful for each of us to go around, introduce ourselves real briefly. And then we'll get into the discussion.
So I'm going to start with Susan.
Q Thank you. My name is Susan Ladd. I'm the Director of Financial Aid Operations here at Drake.
Q I'm Molly Adams. I'm a third-year student here at Drake University.
Q I'm Al Cubbage. I'm the Marketing Director for the University, and have about a half-dozen work-study students in my office.
Q I'm Marilyn Henrich, and I'm Diaconal Minister over at Grace United Methodist Church. And we Drake students from the work-study program.
Q I'm Shashi Patel. I work for the state of Iowa.
Q I'm Jaimie Patel, and I'm a second-year student here at Drake University.
Q My name is Kathy Buster, and I am Erica's mother and honored to be here.
Q I'm Erica Buster. I'm a third-year political finance major, and I work for Sally in Career Services.
Q Justin Givan, first-year music education major. Q I'm Mike Givan, Justin's father, and I'm from
Winterset, Iowa, the famous bridges of Madison County. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: They should have given you the role. (Laughter.)
Q At any rate, I was unable to attend college myself, but due to the financial aid program and work-study program, both my older daughter and my son are able to do that. I think it's great.
Q I'm Amber Schafer, and I'm a senior public relations major at Drake; originally from Western Iowa.
MS. HINDERS: As the person who oversees the work-study program here, I need to reiterate the significance of it. And we were particularly pleased as we met as a group and reviewed that recently, in your State of the Union address, that you talked specifically about work-study and really wanted to try to increase funding in that area. At Drake University alone, we have about 1,300 work-study students. And we have found that to be of great benefit to the University and to the greater Des Moines community and the state.
We have students who tend to do better when they're working and when they have busier schedules. They manage their time more appropriately and they have some spending change, to boot. And we find that those students who are directly involved become connected to campus in a way that, perhaps, others don't. And as a result, we retain more of those students and help them graduate. And, in turn, then, they join the community to be good citizens and citizens that provide help to Drake University and the community.
From an employability standpoint I also work, certainly, with job placement. And those students who have had these kinds of experiences as a stepping stone to, perhaps, internships and other opportunities really stand out and shine above and beyond students who don't have this kind of opportunity. We also have been fortunate with about five percent of our physicians to have those in the community, so that we are able to serve community services that are very important and critical to Drake University and to the Des Moines community.
So those are just a very few of the benefits that we have found with the work study program, and we're real pleased to have the opportunity to talk with you about it today.
At this point it would be helpful if you would share a few opening remarks with us about the work study program and financial aid.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me begin by thanking all of you for taking some time on a Sunday afternoon to do this. I'm delighted to be here, delighted to be at Drake.
Since I became President I've worked hard to try to increase access to colleges and universities for young people because it's obvious that more need to be able to go and more need to be able to stay. And I never will forget when I was governor I had an encounter one night with a number of students in Fayetteville, which is the home town of the University of Arkansas, and I just stopped in a little place, drank a cup of coffee and there were several students there and I talked to two of them of the group there who had actually dropped out of school once already because they were afraid they couldn't afford the cost of staying in. They were worried about whether they could get the proper student loans, whether they could get any scholarships, would they ever be able to pay back their loans.
So I began to work on it when I was a governor and things we could do at the state level. And when I ran for President I had a commitment to try to expand opportunities for college going. And essentially what we have done so far is to put the Pell Grant program back on track -- it was in serious trouble; passed a national service program, which this year has 25,000 young people in it earning money for college tuition while doing community service; and to expand loan options so that more young people could have the option to pay their loans back as a percentage of their income when they get out if they take a job that wouldn't permit them to make what would be the normal commercial repayment schedule. And that would mean no one would ever have to forego borrowing money because they would always be able to handle the loan repayment.
And then in the State of the Union address I recommended, as you pointed out, that we have a 50 percent increase in the work study program, to get up to a million students a year in work study because we haven't kept up over the years in work study with the demand, with increasing enrollment. And I also believe that the cost of college tuition up to $10,000 a year ought to be deductible, which I believe would be -- from my point of view, it's the best kind of tax cut you could have because you'd be giving a tax reduction to people who are investing either in themselves or their children and, therefore, making a big investment in our common future.
But the work study program is of real interest to me because I worked myself through college, I worked myself through law school. I don't believe I would have made it if I hadn't had the jobs. And I also have observed just what you said, that a lot of young people actually do better when they have a work experience to go with their schooling. So I'm hoping to persuade the Congress to adopt this increase in work study, even though in general we're reducing the budget. And we will offer to the Congress a way to do this consistent with our need to balance the budget in seven years. So this won't bust the budget or anything, but it will help a lot more people to go and then to stay in college.
Let me just make one other point on that. I'm very encouraged that the college-going rate in our country is still going up, but I am not encouraged that it has started to fall again in the last two or three years among people whose incomes are in the lowest 20 percent of our economy. And if you think about it, the whole sort of premise, or promise, of America from our earliest immigrants is that hard working parents would be able to open more opportunities to their children. So it's not a good thing that we have that happening.
So one of the things I hope will happen out of the whole combined impact of all these proposals is that young people who come from families with very modest incomes will start increasing their college-going again, just like the rest of our country.
MS. HINDERS: Well, thank you. Particularly with the work study program being need based, that seems to be one of the things that we feel very strongly about, too. It allows those who have some need to be able to move forward.
With us today we have some parents who I'm sure would really appreciate the opportunity to comment on that. And the students that they are here with -- if Justin and Mike, if you -- and Erica, you and Kathy, and also Jaimie and Shashi -- if you would comment just a little bit on what work study means to you as a student, and also as a part of being in your family and as parents.
Q Well, I'll start out. I just -- of course, the bottom line with work study is having some money that you know that you've earned that you can put toward your college tuition so you don't have to feel like your parents are shouldering the entire burden, or the university is paying your way.
But with my experience it's just been such a wonderful stepping stone to an internship that I have now. And I know that if I had not had an on campus job that I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the flexibility and just incredible encouragement that I've received from Sally and the rest of the staff. And just to -- they understand that we're here to go to school and not just to work. And it's just so important for me to know that if I have a test that I can say, you know, I have a test next week, do you think I could have some time off? And they're, like, yes, you're not here just to be our employee; you're here to learn.
And so it's just been such an incredible benefit. I wouldn't quit my job if I didn't need the money. It's just -- it's helped me out so much.
Q And Kathy has been a big supporter behind us. So as a parent's perspective --
Q Yes. Well, Erica would not be here for the federal financial aid that we received as a family. And Drake offered very generous scholarships based on her academic success in high school. But that alone was not enough that we could afford to send her to a private university. And this is where she wanted to be with her political science major. She wanted to be right here in the heart of the government of Iowa and it's just having this opportunity to be here has meant so much to us, we feel like we're doing what we can but with the aid that we've been able to loan -- we can take out on that -- has made it possible.
My husband is a Teamster truck driver and his job has been kind of unstable, off and on, and so it's good to know that every time something happens with his job Erica doesn't have to worry that she might have to drop off because of money problems. Next year we have another daughter that will be in college and we're hoping that the aid will be there next year, too. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say I know that Drake has made a real effort to hold down the tuition, too, so that more people will be able to afford to go. And I just spoke to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Washington a couple days ago and I tried to cite the number of schools that were doing that. I think more and more schools are trying not to just get caught in a vicious cycle where they have to raise tuition and then they have to find more aid, then they have to do more work-study.
I'd just like to remind everybody -- I know all of you around this table know this, but the American people who are watching us and citizens of Iowa who are watching us, this is not -- this should not be viewed as a social program. This is an investment in our future. The taxpayers make out big time on this investment. We get a whole lot more back out of all of you because you're going to have college degrees, because you're going to be able to live out your own dreams, because you're going to be able to do what you wish to do.
And not just financially. This is not entirely a money issue. There's also -- our society is a better place when people find more personal fulfillment in the work that they do. So it is a financial issue, but it's also much more of a moral and social issue. It knits us together more strongly when more people have a chance to build up their God-given abilities.
I personally believe that we don't make any better investments than this. And almost 100 percent of people like you in your position will pay back to the government far more in increased taxes than you ever took out in student loans or Pell Grants or work-study funds or anything else. And I think that's an important thing for the American people to remember, that this will -- this is an investment with a big-time return.
Q For me, work-study has been like a vital part of my college career because it's helped reduce the burden upon my parents for financing my college education. And like you also said, it is an investment for my career, so that when I do grow up and go out in the working force, that I'll have this education behind me and it will help create a more stable job. I'll just be stable and I won't have any problems attaining a job, hopefully. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Your son spoke very well.
Q I think this work-study and the loans definitely helped us to provide a good quality education to both of my sons -- I have another son at the University of Iowa. So it's provided that base to give them the quality education and reduced the financial stress. So that's the key, really important thing for us.
And I think what it has created -- I think it has created them to work a little bit more harder toward their goals and choose a college where they want to go. And I think that work harder is very important, and I think it's seen in their academic area, that they're progressing very well.
MS. HINDERS: No kidding aside, Jaimie's work and the kinds of the things that he's complementing in his classroom and the different courses that he's taking is already adding a great deal to our community. And so I think, when we look at colleges and universities, it adds to that community, and then as graduation occurs, it adds to the greater community.
Justin, you have some interesting things also about work-study.
Q Yes. In all honesty, the financial aid program and the work-study program has made the difference between me going to college and me flipping hamburgers at Hardee's or something like that. And with me, I have -- my family, we've been dealing with very, very special circumstances with a family member of ours. The medical things that are going on are just outrageous, and that has dwindled down our financial status to pretty close to nothing.
And so when it came time for me to decide about going to college, looking at Drake University was something that really couldn't fathom because looking at the cost of it, I knew I would have to be the one that would pay for my college and I knew that there was no way that I'd be able to do that on my own. And in working with the Financial Aid Office, they were able -- and Drake University was able to put together a package for me so I wouldn't have to really worry about paying for it.
But I still felt kind of guilty thinking they're paying for everything and I'm not able to contribute anything. But with the work-study program, I've got money coming in so I feel that I am able to contribute a little bit towards my tuition and I don't have to put the burden on everybody else. And when it comes time when you want to order a pizza or you want to go to the movies, I have cash in my pocket and I don't have to burden my parents or grandparents, or anything like that, about it.
THE PRESIDENT: How many hours a week on average do all of you work?
Q About 10, 11.
THE PRESIDENT: About 10, 11? About the same for everybody? And do you all find that it doesn't undermine your studies?
Q I think it makes us work harder because, one thing in college I've noticed is that you have a certain schedule and you know you have a certain amount of time where you can study and a certain amount of time where you can play, a certain amount of time where you know you have to work. It helps you get set in the schedule that you can keep. I think that was one of the biggest things, is I didn't have time to waste. I knew that I had to work or I had to study.
Q It just kind of helps you to grow up and realize that you can't waste your time while you're here. You need to make the best of it.
Q I think that work-study has given me a tremendous responsibility towards myself. I worked a variety of different work-study jobs on campus. Right now I'm working in the community aspect at Grace Church, and what we have is an after-school program for neighborhood children. It's sponsored by the church, but we get work-study money to help bring neighborhood kids in. And it's been a real great opportunity for me to know that I'm able to help out in the community as a whole, in the Des Moines community.
Work-study as a whole has given me many opportunities. I've met many -- many of my supervisors I'm still very close with. Good recommendations for later. (Laughter.) But I've gained good experience from it and I've really, really enjoyed it. And I think work-study has definitely enabled me to come to Drake.
THE PRESIDENT: Marilyn, what percentage of Molly's pay comes from the government and what percentage do you have to come up with?
MS. ADAMS: Isn't it one-third and a third? I think that's right -- 25 and 75.
THE PRESIDENT: So your church pays for 25 percent? So it's the same as with the college, then?
THE PRESIDENT: Because when you employ people it's 75-25, isn't it?
THE PRESIDENT: So do you have to allocate work-study slots off-campus, is that how it works?
Q Correct. We're supposed to spend five percent of our overall allocation on off-campus studies.
THE PRESIDENT: Does the law limit you to five percent?
THE PRESIDENT: So it's Drake policy? Or is it Department of Education policy? If you wanted to have -- if a college or university wanted to place 25 percent of the work-study people off-campus, could they do so?
Q As far as I know we could, if we could find the places and the students to work there.
THE PRESIDENT: And what percentage of your students are on work-study?
Q About 75 percent of our students who receive financial aid go ahead and accept their work award and work.
Q And I can add to that, about 80 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid.
THE PRESIDENT: So a majority do this, are on some sort of work-study.
Q Oh, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, if you had more positions, could you fill them?
Q Absolutely. If we had -- (laughter.)
Q I'll take three.
Q We'd take another one.
Q There are situations also where there's a required match, when we talk about the 75 and 25 percent. But many institutions, and Drake's one of them, we contribute additional dollars because we really believe in the work-study program. And when we put more dollars into that it allows us, like Al said, to have three more workers or one more worker in different places. And at the same time, it's more efficient for the university to do so.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I saw in the notes I was given before I came in here that the students make between $4.65 an hour and $7.00, but mostly nearer $4.65 than $7.00. But what would you say the average pay is? Between $4.65 and $5.00 an hour?
Q Right around $5.00, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: What determines the pay, the ability of the match or the nature of the job, or what?
Q Nature of the job.
Q It's some supply and demand, but most -- supply and demand definitely comes into play, but some positions require very specialized skills, such as computer kinds of positions or certain certifications, like WSI and life-guarding training and so forth. So for those kinds of positions, in some cases, the wage goes up a little bit in order to be competitive with the marketplace.
Q We have enough students who want to work. We far over-spend our match -- far. We're more at 50-50.
THE PRESIDENT: Really?
Q Lots of students coming in and out every day involved with those positions. And they're varied, quite varied as well.
THE PRESIDENT: But you would -- anyway, I take it that -- you all agree then that there is a demand for more work-study positions, and if we could go -- one million a year is our goal, and that basically costs -- it would be about a 50-percent increase from where we are now.
MS. HINDERS: I feel confident, and I think we all do, that those are the kinds of opportunities that students and parents are really looking for. Parents are depending on it; students are becoming involved with it; and the community is appreciating it as well.
Why don't we spend a few minutes talking a little bit about the employer perspective. Marilyn and Molly are here together, and Amber and Al are here together as worker and employer, and telling us a little bit more about what it means to you as a student and being connected to an employer; and what it means to the employer, what kinds of things does it let you become involved in that perhaps without a work study student you might not be able to do?
Q Well at Grace United Methodist Church, in 1994, we wanted to begin an after school program and so in doing that I also needed to know that I could have some help that I could depend on. And we heard about this, the community aspect of the work study program and so called and found out that we would qualify for our -- the particular program that we were wanting to do in reaching out to the neighborhood children and youth.
And so we applied and we were accepted, and we had two students a year ago and we have Molly this year on work study. And what's so nice about it, I know that she will be there to help at the time that we have to set up; she staffs one of the interest centers that we have -- we have a wide variety of things going on, lots of games, we always make food, we always eat -- (laughter) -- and we have lots of craft things, we have wood working, it's just a variety of things.
And I think the benefit for Molly and the others who have been part of that is that it's a totally different experience than they've had before, it's involvement with children and youth and other adults. A lot of people skills are needed to do that. But they also can realize a significant difference they can make in the lives and the interactions that happen one-on-one with kids.
Q Yeah, I'd really like to agree with what Marilyn said. I think it's the most rewarding job I've had in a long time. I really like working with the kids. And it's really great to see new kids there. Next week a different kid will come and say, my best friend really likes this program -- and brings another kid along, you know, and stuff like that. And it's a lot of fun to know that you're making a difference in the lives of the kids and it's something that they really enjoy.
Some of the kids -- I mean, a lot of them come from good homes, some of them don't come from -- you know, they don't have much to go home to, and it's nice to know that we provide that for them. And it's been a real rewarding experience for me, as well.
MS. HINDERS: Those children are fortunate.
Q Well, I'm kind of the odd duck out because I'm not on work study award right now. I'm still eligible for it, but I declined my award this year because I'm interning at the Register, which is the local newspaper.
But, basically, I worked for Al for three years in the marketing office. And the reason I'm working at the Register and the reason why I have a graduate internship after I graduate in May is that because I've had the base of experience here on campus working in the marketing office. I got a chance to do everything that I'm doing outside in the real world now. I wrote news releases, articles for the publication, all those kinds of things gave me a base of job experience that is going to make me employable -- I hope. (Laughter.)
MS. HINDERS: Always has to get that plug in. (Laughter.) Well, Al, why don't you --
Q Mine is really easy. I'm just very fortunate to have good students like Amber working for it. It's a tremendous to have smart kids, good kids, eager kids who are really -- enable my office to do a much more efficient job and at the same time give them good experience. I mean, the student who come through my office go out in the world and do well. And your point about, you know, paying back not just economically, but socially, is also absolutely on point. You know, Amber is going to go out and she's going to do well in the world.
And one of my students, Rebecca Bass, who is now Senator Harkin's scheduler, I believe, has really been very helpful. So it's great for me because I get to see the students go out and really make something of themselves. And it's also very helpful just because we can do more work.
MS. HINDERS: Exactly. Well, I think that it becomes, then, a win-win-win situation for parents, for students, for employers. I'd like to refer to you just a minute, Mike. I don't think you've had the opportunity to talk about the parents' perspective that is perhaps a little bit unique to others who have spoken so far.
Q Well, as Justin stated, we've had some unique situations in our family. I must say that the work study program to our family and me, as a parent, has just been a tremendous asset because for every dollar that Justin makes through the work study program is one dollar that I can keep in our family budget which, at this time, is very important to us.
And it's also really a peace of mind knowing that Justin might be spending his time at this work study program during these hours where they might be sort of nonproductive hours -- (laughter). All in all, it's been a good program for the students, as well as the parents.
And I'd just like to comment a little bit on the financial aid as a whole. As Justin had stated, we've had a sickness in our family, my wife has been battling leukemia for the last five years so we've been in and out of hospitals, which takes a great deal of money. And, therefore, without the financial aid program my son would not be going to this college at this time. We're very grateful for that, we thank everybody involved in this and we just hope that it will continue.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something, you're a freshman?
THE PRESIDENT: That's one thing I wanted to ask. How do you deal with the demand -- if the demand exceeds the supply, do you give any preference to older students or is it strictly by income, by need, without regard to class?
MS. HINDERS: We begin, first of all, with need based students. And we make sure that those students have assignments. We, at Drake -- that's one of the reasons that we go above and beyond the match, so that we can allow more students to work. So in all cases that I'm aware of, we've been able to allow returning students to have a position. And then we assign our first year students to a position and they are assigned to that position for the first semester. And they have the opportunity to accept or decline that.
With all of the letters that we sent out, I think we had five decline for our first year incoming class. And so they were very eager. Some of the students move on to other positions, like internships. But many of them stay on campus their entire four years. So there is room for everyone. We make room because we think it's important.
Also, the work study piece, I think it's important to remember, it's just one piece of the financial aid program. And Susan is the director of our financial aid operations and it might be helpful for all of us if you'd put that into context of financial aid for us.
Q Okay. Well, work study is really just one of the cornerstone's of a financial aid plan for a family, the other being grants and scholarships, the student loan program and then also the support that all of you as a family give the student.
Work study is a particular favorite of mine, though. It's the one place where it's very easy to say that this no hand out, it's just a helping hand. Students are working very hard and earning their money and it's well deserved. You said earlier it was a win-win-win situation; I think it's a win-win-win-win situation. It's a win for the students and their parents because they have help in paying for school; it's most certainly a win for us as a university. We, quite frankly, could not run with the efficiency we do without our work study students.
It's a win for the community now with the community service program where we send Drake students out into the community and they're a wonderful resource. And something the President said, it's a win in the future, too. I don't think we can really imagine how much an economic boost and what good citizens we're sending out when we're sending work study students away as Drake graduates.
THE PRESIDENT: I also think the value that the students give you -- Erica mentioned that just the work experience, working with older people in a good environment. It's amazing how quickly young people mature and to take a responsibility.
You know, it's a funny thing, when the government was shut down -- which wasn't too funny -- (laughter) -- but when it was shut down there were days when the whole White House was practically being run by the interns. (Laughter.) It was amazing. There were probably four of us with gray hair -- (laughter) -- and the rest of it, the kids were sort of running the show. And they did a great job. I mean, they worked hard, they kept the basic functions open. They worked quite well the first time we were shut down and we didn't have everything covered by the budget.
It just reminded me again of how important it is to give young people that experience, too. It sort of binds the community and the society together in very important ways.
MS. HINDERS: Well, very much so. I know that we're running a little bit short on time.
THE PRESIDENT: Tom, you want to say something?
SENATOR HARKIN: I just wanted to thank all of you and thank you, Mr. President, for being here. I have a unique position, I'm the only member of my party in the Senate who sits on both the Authorizing Committee for Education -- Higher Education, and the Appropriations Committee for Education. In fact, until last year I was the chairman of that appropriations subcommittee.
THE PRESIDENT: I hope you will be again.
SENATOR HARKIN: Well, I hope so. (Laughter.) By the way, Rebecca, as I told you, is doing a great job for me. The youngest person I've ever had in that -- the position of being the scheduler is a tough position.
THE PRESIDENT: It's the worst job in an office.
SENATOR HARKIN: It's the worst job. The worst job. And I'm glad she's doing great at it.
I guess what I'd just say is that it's a pain in the last, oh, several dozen years now that I've been in the Senate and on the Education Committee to see us back off of our commitment to higher education. And, you know, and it hasn't happened in one big fell swoop. I've always said it's been a death by a thousand nicks -- it's a little nick here, and little nick there, and a little back off here, and a little -- and on. It just adds up.
We increased the Pell Grants by $100 this year and everybody said, that's great. We're still almost 40 percent below the authorized level, where we ought to be in Pell Grants. College work study we have fought for years to try to keep up. If we had kept up, in just the last almost 10 years, until this President came on board, if we had kept up with the past growth we had had in the slots, in the money for college work study we wouldn't be 50 percent below -- well, we'd be a little bit below, but not as far back as we are.
So we've had this kind of backing off. And I sense among some of my colleagues -- maybe they don't have our backgrounds, Mr. President, where we came from lower income families and we had to borrow money to go to school. That's the only way we got through school was working. I mean, I borrowed money, I had a small scholarship, I worked in the summertimes, worked after school. Worked in the Des Moines Post Office every Christmas -- during Christmas break I went to work in the Post Office.
Maybe they didn't have those back then, but somehow they have this mind-set that college students are living the life of Riley and they don't need this. I mean, I don't know what planet they arrived from. (Laughter.) But that's not the kind of college students I see. The college students I knew are like you, you're working hard , you're studying hard, you're trying to get ahead.
Yes, of course, you don't want to be burdened with tremendous, huge debts when you get out to bog you down for years. So I just back up what the President said. This is not -- someone asked me one time, why should a taxicab driver in Washington, D.C. give some of his tax money to give to a student for college. And I said, well, I'll tell you why -- because the next fair he picks up at the airport is probably someone who went through college, is now working and making money. And because it lifts all of us up. It lifts the whole society up.
And so I'd just -- all I can tell you is that we now have a President who understands this. Hopefully, we'll get a Congress now that somewhat understands this -- (laughter) -- so we can back him up on it and get not only the number of scholarships up on college work-study, but get the Pell grants up where they are and keep the interest rates as low as possible on college student loans. And make sure that the interest doesn't start accumulating until after you get out of school. If you put those kinds of things together --
THE PRESIDENT: I think that's quite important. I think it's been underestimated, the impact of not having that interest accumulate until people have been out a few months.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just also say, to follow up on what Senator Harkin was saying, and to try to put it in some larger political context -- for the last 30 years anyway, by and large, education has not been a particularly partisan issue. We've had broad bipartisan support for these things until just recently.
And I hope we can get it back, because this is -- this big philosophical debate going on in Washington, if you believe the government is the problem and is the reason for all of our ailments as a society, then you think people are better off if you just get the deficit down, have a strong defense and let people manage for themselves. If you believe that we're stronger as a country when we deal with our common problems in a common fashion, we will work together on them, then it's obvious that things that have a big-ticket cost, like a national work-study program, require some involvement with the national government.
And as I said, these are really matters that historically have not been, at least in my lifetime, the last 30 years, have not been really matters of much partisan debate. But what has happened in the last, sort of, decade, there's been this sort of head of steam built up behind the notion that government per se was bad. Not dumb regulations, or an ill-advised program, or a bad tax system, or whatever, but just the whole idea of government was intrinsically -- something wrong with it. And I basically don't agree with that.
I think what's happened is we need -- all organizations have to become less bureaucratic, less rule-oriented, more oriented toward empowering people to solve their own problems. And government's like that, too, but we cannot meet our educational obligations unless there is a public, broad-based, national commitment to helping you do what you do here at the grass-roots level.
And, actually, one thing I like about the work-study program is it's my idea of what it ought to be -- we say, okay, here's a national problem; we need more young people going to college, but it costs a lot to go and most people can't afford to go. Okay? Here's the national solution: We should give money to help that happen. But we don't tell you how to do it. In other words, that's the way the federal government ought to operate more. We say -- we set a national goal. We provide some resources to meet that goal. We ask you to make a contribution as well. Then you get to decide how. We all agree on the what, nationally, and then you define the how at Drake. And at the University of Iowa, they might define it in an entirely different way. I mean, that's the way this country ought to work, where people work together in tha fashion.
I just sat here and made a list of the seven people I worked for in college and law school -- (laughter.) It's quite interesting. I was thinking, more than half of them I still hear from, I still have a relationship with and I still feel enormously indebted to because they gave me a chance to get my education. I was sitting here thinking about it while you all were talking. (Laughter.)
MS. HINDERS: Well, as we draw to a close, Senator Harkin, do you have any additional comments that you'd like to add?
SENATOR HARKIN: Do you have any students in the Head Start program?
Q We do.
SENATOR HARKIN: You do?
SENATOR HARKIN: Good for you.
MS. HINDERS: This has been a pleasure to have you here today, Mr. President. We have enjoyed coming together as a group to talk to you about an issue that we really have a passion for. And we can tell that you do, too. So, on behalf of Drake and our entire community, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. And good luck to all of you.
END 1:27 P.M. CST